Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Moreover let us also be full of joy now! Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance, fortitude develops maturity of character, approved faith and tried integrity. And character produces the habit of joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.”
“A story is told of the great artist Turner, that one day he invited Charles Kingsley to his studio to see a picture of a storm at sea. Kingsley was rapt in admiration. “How did you did it, Turner?” he exclaimed. Turner answered: “I wished to paint a storm at sea; so I went to the coast of Holland, and engaged a fisherman to take me out in his boat in the next storm. The storm was brewing, and I went down to the boat and bade him bind me to its mast. Then he drove the boat out into the teeth of the storm. The storm was so furious that I longed to be down in the bottom of the boat and allow it to blow over me. But I could not: I was bound to the mast. Not only did I see that storm, and feel it, but it blew itself into me until I became part of the storm. And then I came back and painted the picture.”
His experience is a parable of life: sometimes cloud and sometimes sunshine; sometimes pleasure, sometimes pain. Life is a great mixture of happiness and tragic storm. He who comes out of it rich in living, is he who dares to accept it all, face it all, and let it blow its power, mystery and tragedy into the inmost recess of the soul. A victory so won in this life will then be an eternal possession.”
Charles Lewis Slattery
Today’s Study Text:
“And Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on”
Esther 9 -11
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“Vashti the Virtuous” Part 6
“A capable, intelligent and virtuous woman – who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls.”
What picture comes to my mind when someone says, “She is a virtuous woman”?
Definition of Virtuous: An individual who is filled with qualities of excellence and moral purity.
Have I ever faced a situation in my life when I felt that someone was trying to compromise my virtue?
“The strength of an (individual’s) virtue should not be measured by (their) exertions, but by their habitual acts.”
“Virtue is the music of the soul, the harmony of the passions, it is the order, the symmetry, the interior beauty of the mind; the source of the truest pleasures, the fountain of the sublimest and most perfect happiness.”
Her name was Vashti. She was the queen of Medo-Persia, possibly some authors report, she may well have been one of many women King Ahasuerus had in his harem. But at the point in time that we meet her, she carried the title of queen and wore the royal crown.
Interestingly, in order for God’s providential care over His children the Jews to be witnessed, and for a young woman named Esther to be elevated to the position of queen, Vashti’s place in the kingdom of Medo-Persia could not stay the same. As we have already found out, King Ahasuerus was in the mood to show off the wealth and width of the glory of his earthly kingdom. I appreciate the way Bible commentator Matthew Henry chooses to describe the six-month feast Ahasuerus threw in the third year of his rulership from India to Ethiopia: “When the king found himself fixed on his throne, the pride of his heart rising with the grandeur of his kingdom, he made a most extravagant feast, wherein he put himself to vast expense and trouble only to show the riches of his glorious kingdom…the honor of his excellent majesty.” And then Henry goes on to point out that at the core, the king’s showy behavior was “nothing but vain glory, an affectation of pomp to no purpose at all.” This particular line caught my eye for it struck a cord in my own thoughts about what was to follow.
After his 6-month display, King Ahasuerus proceeded to entertain the people of Shushan, both great and small at a feast lasting seven days. From the words of today’s study text we can conclude that while the men spent seven consecutive days feasting and drinking to their heart’s content, we are told that “Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house,” unlike the palace garden party hosted by the king.
As Esther 1:10 states: “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded…to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.”
There are several words that I wanted to look at in the Hebrew translation. “When the heart of the king was merry” translates into this thought, “when the king’s core feelings were in a pleasurable manner.” After seven days straight of eating and drinking I imagine the king may well have been in an overly stimulated mood and it was at that point in time when he “ordered” that Vashti be brought out so his princes could “gaze” upon her for the Bible underscores the fact that “she was very beautiful.”
There are several things about this passage in Scripture that lead me to take a slightly different view of what has been a rather concerted effort to make Vashti out as only an example of a woman who was disobeying her husband’s direct order.
Here are four points for our consideration as we attempt to see how God’s hand was at work even in the life of a foreign queen whose husband was a greedy, land-grabbing monarch.
Point Number One: Vashti agreed to host a party for the women while her husband was hosting his own event. If Vashti was the disobedient wife she is made out to be by some authors, why would she go to the trouble to convene an event that was held at the same time as the king’s event. Why not refuse to even participate in the entire spectacle?
Point Number Two: Vashti, the Bible calls to our attention, was a very beautiful woman and her husband’s order for her to come to a feast so she could be gazed upon may very well have made the queen feel she was being demeaned as some sort of trophy,
Point Number Three: In the laws of these heathen countries, the right of a woman to speak on her own behalf was not given much thought at all. It may have been that Vashti found the idea of drunken princes ogling her was behavior she could no longer tolerate.
Point Number Four: What did Vashti have to gain by refusing the king’s order? Absolutely nothing! She had to have known that the wine-filled king wouldn’t be happy with her decision to refuse his request to appear before him while he was entertaining his princes. One author even suggested that Vashti may have believed her life would be in danger because of her refusal to come when called.
It is with these four thoughts in mind that I’d like to look at four qualities of character that I believe we as women (and the men, too) can come to appreciate in the life of Vashti. These qualities are ones that I want to incorporate into my own life whether public or private.
In Proverbs 31, King Solomon notes that a virtuous woman’s price is “far above rubies.” In this day and age, I’d like to offer an expansion on this passage of Scripture – “A virtuous woman can’t be bought. Her worth can’t be priced by any earthly treasures for her value is greater than any precious stone.”
There are times throughout history when sadly, the worth of a woman of God has been judged in an unholy manner. What I pray we will learn in the coming days is that what the life of Queen Vashti can teach us is that sometimes, no king’s order is worth demeaning ourselves, whether female or male. For virtue is indeed its own reward. In the words of an unknown individual: “It is in loving – not in being loved, the heart is blest; It is in giving – not in seeking gifts, we find our quest. If thou art hungry, lacking heavenly food, give hope and cheer. If thou art sad and wouldst be comforted, stay sorrows tear. Whatever by thy longing and thy need, that do thou give; so shall thy soul be fed, and truly live.”
“So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, contemplating your basic faith with good character, virtue, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. So, friend, confirm God’s invitation to you, His choice of you. Don’t put it off: do it now. Do this and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
II Peter 1:5-11
The Message Bible
A (One) of Life Upright
“The ‘One’ of life upright,
Whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds,
Or thoughts of vanity;
The ‘One’ whose silent days
In harmless joys are spent,
Whom hopes cannot delude
Nor sorrow discontent;
That ‘One’ needs neither towers
Nor armour for defense,
Nor secret vaults of fly
From thunder’s violence.
‘One’ only can behold
With unaffrighted eyes
The horrors of the deep
And terrors of the skies.
Thus scorning all the cares
That fate or fortune brings,
‘One’ makes the heavens their book,
Their wisdom heavenly things;
Good thoughts their only friends,
Their wealth a well-spent age,
The earth their sober inn
And quiet pilgrimage.”
“Virtue dwells not in the tongue but in the heart.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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